Making Math Fun: Numbers to 120



If your class is anything like mine, you hear a huge collection of GROANs and SIGHs when you tell them it's time to pull out their math book. This is the reason that Raegan Tunstall is my math HERO! A few of my colleagues attended one of her Guided Math trainings two years ago and we have been using Guided Math ever since!! We still use our math book for a 10-15 minutes warm up, but for the next 40 minutes, my students are engaged in a small group lesson at my table, math journals, math games and math stations! This post is designed to showcase a few ways that we have fun with numbers to 120. 

Greater Than or Less Than?

One of the first things we do in our first grade math lessons is start looking at numbers to 120. We generate numbers greater and less than 120 and we also use comparative symbols. Along with every other teacher I know, we use the "gator mouth" to determine if the gator would rather eat 21 cookies or 24 cookies. This summer I hit a GOLD MINE at Dollar Tree when I found three of these gator chip clips for $1!! 


I really think this hands on approach to comparing numbers helped my students understand comparative symbols. Now when they get stuck, I simply say "If you had a gator, which way would you hold him?" and they are able to visualize holding that gator chip clip to answer their problem!! 

Place Value

My favorite way to introduce place value is with... you guessed it... FOOD!! My firsties and I love to experiment with building numbers by breaking out the graham crackers, pretzels, marshmallows and white boards! Don't get me wrong, I love my pre-made, perfectly laminated place value games also. They definitely have a place in the classroom! But I love the non-structure of this activity because we can really it as easy or as hard as my class needs at that point in the year,  because let's face it, every single class is different! 


Whiteboards are a GREAT way to have students practice writing and illustrating place value without the structure of a worksheet! Not ready for 100's places just yet? Stick to tens and ones and your class  will still be rockin' the socks off place value in no time!!

Open Number Lines

Another way we understand numbers to 120 is by ordering those numbers on an open number line. This can be a really hard concept for young learners. Below is a game I made called "Up on the Clothesline". The students are given a set of numbers and asked to "pin" the numbers to the clothesline in order from least to greatest! 




This is another great visualization activity! When students have trouble writing numbers on an open number line, I simply say "if you could pin these numbers on the line, which one would you start with" and so on. I love seeing my little ones trying to visualize the clothesline in their head!! 

For this activity and more, check out: 



How do you practice numbers to 120?

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